Niagara Gazette

February 27, 2014

County pushes network upgrade forward

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Niagara County legislators will consider awarding a bid next week to a company that will provide data equipment for a new countywide network. But there seems to be some question to what the bid actually is.

This week, the Legislature’s Public Works and Administration committees both approved a resolution awarding the countywide network bid to Advance 2000 of Amherst. The resolution says “in an amount not to exceed $715,091.”

But that figure was the one sponsoring Legislator Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda came up with, by taking Advance’s base bid and adding in costs for bonding, training, adjusted maintenance costs and routers.

Lawmakers didn’t see that figure on any other bid documents. And it’s the latest change in the bids for the network award.

Advance originally was the low bidder, but lost the award when county officials and two consultants decided Advance left out some items in their bid and had equipment that didn’t meet specifications.

Larry Helwig, the county’s information technology director, and consultants from ECC Technology and Cannon Design declared that IPLogic, another Amherst company, was the real low bidder. Lawmakers said they had a number of questions about the change in bids.

In the Administration committee’s Tuesday meeting, Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, said the entire bidding process was complete chaos.

”This whole process has been like an episode of the Three Stooges,” he said. “I’ve never seen an RFP process so screwed up.” 

Virtuoso and Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, were the no-votes in the committee’s 3-2 decision to send the resolution to the full Legislature. The matter will be on the Legislature’s March 4 meeting agenda.

Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, committee chairman Anthony J. Nemi, I-Lockport and Bradt voted in favor of the resolution.

“Nobody has told us Advance 2000 is not the lowest bid,” Updegrove said.

Advance 2000 is a dealer in Alcatel-Lucent hardware, not Cisco Systems hardware which is what Helwig said the county should stick with. The Alcatel-Lucent equipment would be a lower grade switch, Helwig told the committee.

The network bid award passed the Public Works committee unanimously on Monday.

In another matter, a special meeting of the Legislature was called off Tuesday.

Legislators were to discuss declaring the county’s land on Davison Road as surplus property in order to clear the way for bidding from would-be buyers. Last week, Legislature Chairman Bill Ross, C-Wheatfield, said there would probably be a special meeting, but the meeting was scrapped and the declaration will go on the agenda for the Legislature’s next regular meeting on March 4.

Virtuoso raised some questions concerning the selling process, such as sale terms and an appraisal of the property.

• Both the county’s Public Works and Administration committees approved a resolution allowing for the addition of FEMA funds to the Niagara County Golf Course budget.

The 13th and 14th holes on the course suffered extensive damage caused by the heavy rains and resulting flood of June 2013. The FEMA money, totaling $41,724, will be used to make repairs. 

The matter will appear on the March 4 agenda for the full Legislature.